I couldn’t read Amy’s face as easily when the helmet covered half of it. Still, she stiffened. “What kind of powers?”
I thought about it. “I’m… not sure. I think he took over a Cabal soldier. The Cabal’s normal soldiers had a wide variety, and mostly their powers weren’t fully developed, but their reserves were terrifying. Think strong, nearly invulnerable, and they regenerate. Actually, you duplicated one of their descendant’s powers, so you know them better than I do.”
Amy stared. “Crap. I can’t say how it works in this world, but in mine he kept any abilities that were purely physical. He didn’t always keep magic. Some kinds of magic weren’t accessible to him, especially anything opposed to whatever he is.”
Her eyes swept over the group. “This changes our plan. If he’s one of the Cabal’s reserves we’re going to have to go in as hard as we can. If he can regenerate like I could then… Accelerando, you’ve fought them. Can we keep one down long enough to surround him with wards?”
Jaclyn nodded, only distinguishable from everyone else because she was taller than everyone but Izzy and me. “With Blue and Troll we can hold him down and I can get the wards around him.”
Cassie didn’t let them go any further, saying, “Don’t worry about it. We’ve got this. The last time we fought the Cabal, the Rocket discovered they were far from invulnerable to high powered lasers, and guess who’s got lasers? Me and the Rocket.”
She moved her gun in front of her from where it hung at her side. Made of a shimmery blue-green metal, it was currently the size of a submachine gun. Its shape adjusted to her needs, so tomorrow it might be the size of a rifle or pistol.
Amy gave a quick nod in response. “Well, if that’s what we have to do, we’ll do it. You two can hurt him, and then while he’s healing we’ll surround him with wards. Remember everyone, if we don’t know what he is, Cabal or normal human, we have to find out because if we kill the host, who knows where The Thing That Eats will reappear?”
She’d said that before, but I couldn’t deny the point bore repeating.
Presumably satisfied that we’d gotten the point, she said, “Alright, let’s go. Troll?”
Rod smiled. “Follow the bouncing mythological humanoid…”
In his place stood a strangely warped version of himself—two stories tall with gnarled muscles, and a wide jaw full of big teeth.
Izzy chucked a black ball that hit him and expanded into a skintight black and red accented suit with a superficial similarity to Amy’s Bloodmaiden look—just like the rest of us.
The Thing That Eats would never confuse him with Amy, but it might be fun to watch him process the difference.
Troll took a few steps as the roof made cracking noises, and then stepped off the edge, landing on the grass next to the building with a solid thump.
We all followed. Cassie used one of my redesigned grapple guns to descend using a line of sticky goo. Izzy, Amy, and I flew down while Jaclyn jumped off the roof, landing next to Rod.
Rod stepped up to the wall, leaned in, and gave it a push. Though it had been designed to look like stone, it was concrete and shattered. A solid push bent the rebar inside, and brushing away the metal bars with his arms, he stepped inside the house. Then he kicked through the concrete floor inside with one foot, leaning down and ripping more floor away with his arms, and then jumping through the hole he’d created.
He’d done all of that in less than ten seconds.
With the noise, we couldn’t do anything but alert the Thing to our arrival, so I’d been watching with the spybots to see how he responded. He’d stood up at his desk when Rod broke through the wall, but when Rod broke through the floor and jumped into the basement, The Thing ran toward the breach.
For me, that was a serious clue that the man had been one of the reserves. For anyone else, the sensible response to having a troll break through your concrete wall is to leave.
This creature changed from the withered man we’d seen at his desk to the same withered man, but then with a head nearly the size of his body. The head had a mouth large enough to surround any one of us except for Rod in one bite (plus a little slurping to suck in a stray arm or leg).
It appeared to have been constructed out of fleshlike brick squares, creating a matrix of lines across the head.
Nothing about that made sense to me, but I didn’t have to understand it, just keep people aware of it.
“The Thing’s seen Troll and is charging him.”
With that, we followed him in.